Home Lab

VMware Guest Operating System Installation Guide gets an Online Facelift

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At some point in your VMware administrator career you discover you need information around the correct settings to deploy a VM properly.

You find that you need to answer questions like –

What is the supported network adapter for my Guest OS?

Are Paravirtualization adapters supported for my Guest OS?

Can I do Hot memory add?

A few years ago the default standard was the Guest Operating System Installation Guide.

It gave you all the information you needed to setup the virtual hardware or confirm what recommend virtual hardware should be by the OS Type.

Recently the compatibility and OS installation guides have come online and they can lead you to best practices around settings and KB’s too.

In this blog post I’m going to step you through how to find basic information around a Windows 2008 server.

Start here – http://partnerweb.vmware.com/GOSIG/home.html#other

This link will take you to the Guest Operating System Installation Guide.

Select your OS – In this case I choose Windows 2008 Server

Here are the base install instructions for the Guest OS, note at the bottom the KB Articles and Guest OS Compatibility Guide.

The Guest OS Compatibility Guide can tell you what network drivers etc are support for the guest OS..

Click here to go to the VMware Compatibility Guide, Select your OS Family, OS Type and choose Update & Review…

Then select your ESX / ESXi version to see the details…

Here are the results…  Also from this page you can choose a different product like ESXi 5.0U1 or other…

Home Lab – Adding a Layer 3 Switch to my growing Home Lab

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Most recently I expanded my home lab to include a Layer 3 switch.

Why would I choose a Layer 3 switch and what/how would I use it is the topic of this blog post.

Here are my requirements for my home lab –

I would like to setup my home network to support multiple VLANs and control how they route.

This will enable me to control the network traffic and segment my network to allow for different types of testing.

I’d also like to be able to run all of these VM’s on Workstation 9, support remote access, and ESXi Hosts.


Frist thing I did was come up with a drawing of what I wanted. It included all my wants and needs…

This was my chance to brain storm a bit and I just wrote down everything I wanted or really needed.

From this drawing I came up with this list…

  1. Support Remote Access
  2. VLANS
  3. VLAN Routing
  4. VLAN Tagging
  5. ESXi Host with 5 NICs
  6. Workstation 9 Host with 5 NICs
  7. Support 5 Different VLANs
  8. Support Internet Access for VM’s
  9. Local Storage support for home files
  10. Printer / Scanner need to be on the network
  11. I’m going to need a switch with 24 Ports or better
  12. Design the network so that I can power down the test lab and allow home devices to print and access the Inet.

Second thing – What do I currently have to work with…

  1. Windows 7×64, Workstation 9, 32GB RAM, iCore 7, 2 x SATA3 2TB 6gbs HD, 2 x SATA3 SSD (60 & 120), 1 NIC
  2. IO Mega IX4 with Dual NICs
  3. Older Netgear 16 Port Gig Layer 2 Switch unmanaged
  4. Netgear N900 with Guest Network Support

Based on these lists I came up with my shopping list…

  1. I need a Layer 3 Switch to support all this
  2. I need some Multiport Giga Bit NICs

Let’s start with the switch…Here is what I looked for in a Switch –

Must Have –

  1. Layer 3 Routing
  2. VLANs
  3. VLAN Routing
  4. Managed
  5. Quiet – It is a must for home networking as I work from home and am frequently on calls.
  6. Cost effective – keep it below a few hundred

Nice to have –

  1. Quality Brand
  2. Support
  3. Community behind the product
  4. Non-Blocking Switch
  5. OSPF or RIP

Basically most good Layer 3 switches achieve the requirements for 1-4. However these switches usually run in a Data center or Networking closet and are quite loud

I did some looking around for different switches, mostly used Cisco and Extreme Networks. These are switches that I am familiar with and would fit my home lab. However I’ve seen my share of their innards, I know their fans are loud and cannot easily be replaced. When I was at VMworld 2012 I chatted quite a bit with the Netgear folk about their products and I remember talking with them about their products and how they fit SMB to Enterprise quite nicely. I started to look on Ebay and I found an affordable Netgear Switch. I did some research on line and found how others were modifying the fans to help them run more quietly.

My choice was the Netgear GSM7324. It is a 24 Port Layer 3 Managed Switch from 2008. It meets all my must have needs and it fulfilled all of the “Nice To haves”

I also bought the following to support this switch –

Startech Null Modem DB9 to USB to run the CLI on the Switch

Sunon MagLev HA40201V4-0000-C99, 40x20mm,Super Silent FAN for $10 apiece, they fit perfectly and they run the switch at a tolerable noise level

TIP – And this is important… I had to move the PIN outs on these fans to meet the PIN outs on the Switch. If I didn’t it could have damaged the switch…

Next I started looking for Multi-Port Gigabit NICS…

What do I have to work with?

I’m using the Gigabyte Z68XP-UD3 for Workstation 9 and MSI Z68MA-G45B3 for my ESXi 5.x Host.

What are the Must haves for the NIC’s?

  1. Dual Gigabit
  2. VLAN support
  3. Jumbo Frames
  4. Support for ESXi and Windows 7×64
  5. I need about 4 of these cards

I choose the SYBA SY-PEX24028. It’s a Dual NIC Gigabit card that meets my requirements. I found it for $39 on Newegg .

Tip – When choosing a network card I needed to ensure the card will fit into my motherboards, not all x1 PCIe slots are the same and when looking at Dual Gigabit NICs most only work in server class hardware.


Summary –

I achieved what I was looking to accomplish and with some good design work I should have a top notch home lab. All in all I spent about ~$400 to upgrade my home lab. Which is not a bad deal considering most Layer 3 switches cost $400+. All my toys have now come in and I’m off to rework my lab…. But that my friend is a different blog post…


VMworld 2012 – Public Voting Now Open – Vote for my sessions!

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For the first time I submitted sessions for VMworld 2012.

Please support me by going to vmworld.com and voting for my sessions…

Please visit VMworld 2012

Update to my Home Lab with VMware Workstation 8 – Part 1 Why

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Over the couple of years my home lab running VMware Workstation 7 has served me quite well.  I’ve been able to deploy VM’s as needed (Windows, ESX, etc) and attach it to my shared storage.

However as my role has changed to a TAM at VMware I’ve needed to depend on my lab to interface with my customers and keep my technical skills up.  VMware supplies labs and access to many of their products and this approach is a good one, however there is something said for building it yourself.

Before I just start setting up software, hardware, SAN’s, network, etc  I needed to reevaluate my current home lab and setup my new objectives / goals —

“To update a home lab one must look back to move forward” – Matt Mancini Smile

What were some of the objectives and goals I chose back then?

What do you want to accomplish by setting up a home lab or work test environment?
I wanted to setup a home lab with a couple of ESX servers and shared storage
I wanted to do this so I could testing basic ESX functions and new versions

What are the expectations for uptime and performance?
I’d like the system to perform well as a home PC and a test lab
I’d like to use it to do basic functions and run my lab quickly keeping delays to a minimum

What equipment do I have access to and what do would I need to purchase?
Have – High End PC, Home Network
Purchase – More RAM, Shared Storage, Workstation Software

I built the following environment based on my objectives and goals–

Hardware / Software –


Network –

Internal networks to support vMotion and ESX Management Network

External Single NIC to support VM’s


Storage —

iSCSI, NFS – To support ESX Hosts

CIFS Shares – for a Public Share

Single NIC from home lab to support connection to  IX4

500GB HD –  Boot OS and Some Workstation VM’s

300GB HD – For Workstation VM’s

160GB HD – For Workstation VM’s

Current VM’s –

Web Safe – XP VM’s used for surfing the web

Home VM – Used for Home / Personal Use

ESX 3.5 Cluster – built but rarely used

ESX 4.0 Cluster – Used but not fully configured

vCenter Server VM – Windows 2003 x32 running vCenter Server 4.0


Outcomes for 09/2011 –

Currently my home lab is struggling to keep up.  As my role has changed the demands on my home lab have increased.  The main constraint appears to be RAM, 8GB of RAM won’t cut it anymore. So now I’m faced with updating or replacing my home lab.

The Update Plan 10/2011 –

Generally the home lab is doing okay but it is struggling with local RAM.  If I run more then 3 VM’s (1 – vCenter Server, and 2 – ESX) there isn’t really much left and paging begins.

I start to look to update my current Mother board (MoBo) to 16GB of RAM, it’s MAX.  As I start to research 4 x 4GB DDR2, I find that DDR3 has consumed the market. and DDR2 is so far past its prime that updating it would cost about ~$250 for RAM.

It’s time for a major overhaul for my home lab – What are the new objectives and considerations?

What do you want to accomplish by setting up a home lab or work test environment?
I wanted to setup my home lab to be able to run One vCenter Server, 2 – ESX servers w/ shared storage iSCSI and NFS, maybe on other XP VM, at the same time with out paging to disk
I to test basic ESX functions, new versions, explore options for customers, work with beta code, etc

What are the expectations for uptime and performance?
I’d like the system to perform well as a home PC and a test lab
I’d like to use it to do basic functions and run my lab quickly keeping delays to a minimum

What equipment do I have access to and what do would I need to purchase?
Have – High End PC, Home Network, Shared Storage, Workstation Software

What newer hardware update should be considered?

i7 Core CPU, MoBo with 32GB support, USB 3.0, onboard mSATA, SSD Drives, SATA 6.0 Support

With these things in mind I decided on the following items…


Let chats a bit about the Buy items and reasons why I choose them…

Gigabyte GA-Z68XP-UD3 Mobo

Here are the key drivers why I choose this motherboard –

Price and options were my number one driver, I had looked at other MoBo’s but when I narrowed it down this one kept coming up…

4 x SATAIII – 6.0Gbs Support – Really the MoBo out there with this (Note – this MoBo uses 2 different Chipsets to achieve this (2 x on the Intel Z68 and 2 x on the Marvell chipset)

4 x SATAII – 3.0Gbs Support – Uses the Z68 Chipset

32GB RAM Max

USB 3.0 Support

Good PCI Support – PCI Express 2.0 x16 2 (x16, x8), PCI Express x1, 3 PCI Slots 2 (I did look at PCI Express 3.0 boards but at this point they are more of a fad then reality)

Here are the details on this board — http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128512

60GB SSD SATAIII aka 6.0Gbs

The key driver for this product was Speed and Price.

I got the “Corsair Force Series 3 CSSD-F60GB3A-BK 2.5″ 60GB SATA III Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)”

I got this drive at Fry’s for $80 and it stated it could do 500MB/s Read and Write.

Come to find out it can only do 250MB/s RorW however if you buy the GT Model it will.

Don’t take my word for it read about it on the Corsair forums — http://forum.corsair.com/v3/forumdisplay.php?f=188

Other Caveats – Don’t use SSD for your boot drive, before you buy read reviews

I’m not happy about this but the drive still preforms well and I use it to boot VM’s it flys!

Here are the deailts on the SSD – http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820233223


Key driver here was Size and Price

Once again Frys had the best price and it got 16GB of RAM for $79

Here are the details on the RAM – http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820233143

With new hardware in hand, let the fun and rebuilding begin – I’m off to Part II of this blog “Update to my Home Lab with VMware Workstation 8 – Part 2 Fun with a Windows 7 Installer

vSphere: NUMA 706: Can’t boot system as genuine NUMA

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If you install vSphere on NON-NUMA hardware the following warning message will be displayed on the Service Console splash screen

cpu0:0)NUMA: 706: Can’t boot system as genuine NUMA. Booting with 1 fake node(s)

To resolve the warning message uncheck the option setting vmkernel.boot.usenumainfo

Home Lab – Workstation 7 to 7.1 Upgrade

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I upgraded my Home Lab from Workstation 7.0 to 7.1 tonight..

More info on my home lab here…

Upgrade Steps I took…

  1. First step was to uninstall Workstation 7, then install 7.1
    • Note: The install will do this automatically if needed
  2. Once the uninstall is completed a reboot is necessary
  3. After the reboot I noticed Windows 7 reconfigure the Network adapters
    • Note.. At this point if you need to adjust your local subnets now might be a good time, once you install 7.1 it will reconfigure all the vmnets around this.
  4. The install of Workstation 7.1 is pretty simple, Choose Custom and Next a few times and one reboot
  5. After the reboot Windows 7 finds the new network adapters, and it was all done..

What I noticed after the upgrade..

  • WS7.1 launched with out issues, it didn’t require me to input my serial number again, and it came right up.
  • I opened up the Virtual Network Editor, and it took about a minute to assign subnets to the 8 difference vmnets. (This is something I should have documented better, as I don’t recall all the subnets.  However I did have 2 documented)
  • When I powered on my good old XP VM, locally Windows 7 noticed this as needing an USB updated driver, it quickly went to the update site and downloaded the driver, no issue.  In the XP VM I updated the vmware tools, rebooted, and it worked normally
  • One new thing was the vmtools ICON now is grey and white
  • I powered up my ESX test environment..
    • 1st my vCenter Server is connected to VMnet0 in Auto-Bridged mode
    • On Power up I noticed my vm had been switched from a static ip to DHCP
    • I correct this by entereing its static IP and it functioned normally
    • 2nd I powered up my ESX 3.5 host
    • It booted fine and attached itself to the vCenter server without issue
    • 3rd I powered up my ESX 4.0 host
    • It booted fine and attached itself to the vCenter server without issue

Final thoughts…

This upgrade was a good warm up for the next Workstation upgrade that I need to do.
This environment was pretty simple, nothing very complex, and pretty much went smoothly.
I think the best rule of thumb is before you upgrade know and document your lab then upgrade.
My home lab was partially documented it would have went smoother if it was fully documented.

Next up… Update of a more complex WS lab with an IOMega iSCSI NAS and multiple subnets…
I’ll post up how it goes…

Here’s whats new with WS7.1… I got this from VMware site…


What’s New

This release of VMware Workstation adds the following new features and support:

•New Support for 32-Bit and 64-Bit Operating Systems

•New Features in VMware Workstation

New Support for 32-Bit and 64-Bit Operating Systems

This release provides support for the following host and guest operating systems:

Operating System Host and Guest Support

Ubuntu 8.04.4 Host and guest

Ubuntu 10.04 Host and guest

OpenSUSE 11.2 Host and guest

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.5 Host and guest

Fedora 12 Guest

Debian 5.0.4 Guest

Mandriva 2009.1 Guest

New Features in VMware Workstation

•OpenGL 2.1 Support for Windows 7 and Windows Vista Guests — Improves the ability to run graphics-based applications in virtual machines.

•Improved Graphics Performance — Enhanced performance with better benchmarks, frame rates, and improved rendering on Windows 7 and Windows Vista guests allows you to run various graphics-based applications. In addition, major improvements in video playback enable you to play high-resolution videos in virtual machines.

•Automatic Software Updates — Download and install VMware Tools and receive maintenance updates when available.

•Direct Launch — Drag guest applications from the Unity start menu directly onto the host desktop. Double-click the shortcut to open the guest application. The shortcut remains on the desktop after you exit Unity and close VMware Workstation.

•Autologon — Save your login credentials and bypass the login dialog box when you power on a Windows guest. Use this feature if you restart the guest frequently and want to avoid entering your login credentials. You can enable Autologon and use direct launch to open guest applications from the host.

•OVF 1.1 Support — Import or export virtual machines and vApps to upload them to VMware vSphere or VMware vCloud. The VMware OVF Tool is a command-line utility bundled in the VMware Workstation installer. Use this tool along with VMware Workstation to convert VMware .vmx files to .ovf format or vice versa. VMware recommends that you use the OVF command-line utility. For more information, see the OVF Web site and OVF Tool User Guide.

•Eight-Way SMP Support — Create and run virtual machines with a total of up to eight-processor cores.

•2TB Virtual Disk Support — Maximum virtual disks and raw disks size increased from 950GB to 2TB.

•Encryption Enhancements — VMware Workstation includes support for Intel’s Advanced Encryption Standard instruction set (AES-NI) to improve performance while encrypting and decrypting virtual machines and faster run-time access to encrypted virtual machines on new processors.

•Memory Management — User interface enhancements have simplified the handling of increased virtual memory capacity.

•User Experience Improvement Program — Help VMware improve future versions of the product by participating in the User Experience Improvement Program. Participation in the program is voluntary and you can opt out at any time. When you participate in the User Experience Improvement Program, your computer sends anonymous information to VMware, which may include product configuration; usage and performance data, virtual machine configuration; usage and performance data, and information about your host system specifications and configuration.

The User Experience Improvement Program does not collect any personal data, such as your name, address, telephone number, or email address that can be used to identify or contact you. No user identifiable data such as the product license key or MAC address are sent to VMware. VMware does not store your IP address with the data that is collected.

For more information about the User Experience Improvement Program, click the Learn More link during installation or from the VMware Workstation Preferences menu.

Home Lab – Install of ESX 3.5 and 4.0 on Workstation 7

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Tonight I got the pleasure to work on my home lab a bit..

Here is what I am currently running..

Antec Sonata Gen 1 Case
Antec 650 Earth Watts Power Supply
Gigabyte EP43-UD3L MB
Intel® Core™2 Quad Processor Q9400 2.66Ghz/1333FSB/6MB Cache
Cooler Master TX3
8GB of Patriot DIMM 2GB PC2-5300U CL4-4-4-12 (DDR2-667) (PEP22G5300LL)
500GB/300GB/160GB SATA 3.0 HD’s
Windows 7 – 64 Bit
VMWare Workstation 7

Installation of ESX 4.0 was easy… just follow the steps to create a new VM and choose ESX 4.0

Installation of ESX 3.5 was a bit tricky at first… I did the usually google for answers but everything was on Workstation 6.5 and how to modify the vmx config file…

I ended up doing the following and it seams to be working well..

Create a custom VM
Choose “I will install the OS Later”
Select “Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 64-bit”
Defaults on the rest
When it completed set it to boot to your ESX3.5 Media, so that you can install the OS
Complete the OS install and your done..
Much easier then WS 6.5

Mine ran with out issue and it really moves..
In fact I installed it with my ESX 4.0 VM running in the background..

So far workstation 7 is seems to be a big improvement and it’s quite speedy for me..

Home Lab – GS724AT – ProSafe® 24-port Gigabit Smart Switch with Advanced Features

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GS724AT – ProSafe® 24-port Gigabit Smart Switch with Advanced Features

I found this switch that I believe will do VLAN’s and Tagging for only $340, not to bad for 24 port Gigabit and it seams like a deal for a ESX home lab..

Home Lab – iomega nas for esx

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io mega nas esx

Io mega has some cool NAS devices on the cheap… they look like they’d be good for a small business or a home lab!

Here is a cool review on it…
Iomega’s ix4-200d: A Killer Desktop Storage Array

Here is the one I’m looking at for my home lab..

iomega website ix4-200d

ESX / ESXi 4.0 Whitebox HCL

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I found this cool link to whitebox with your ESX servers.. check it out!
Thanks to a fellow VMUG User (Vlad N)

ESX / ESXi 4.0 Whitebox HCL: “Motherboards and unsupported servers that work with ESX 4.0 and / or ESXi 4.0 Installable
Lasted updated – 2010.02.02″